October 03, 2016
For more than a decade, Shinnyo-en has supported the efforts of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). According to Her Holiness Shinso Ito, Head of Shinnyo-en, "Making a contribution does not only mean donating one's time or money: it also means to live actively amongst others. It is to be engaged with the surrounding community, to become aware that there are things we can do."
In recent years, much of the UNHCR’s work has involved the ever-growing stream of people who are forced to leave their home countries and seek refuge in a foreign land, as a result of armed conflicts. The United Nations report that the number of refugees is at its highest level since World War II.
In June, the Shinnyo community in Germany presented a donation of € 50,000 (about 55,000 USD) to the local UN refugee agency in Berlin. These funds will go towards a project that will aid refugees from Syria in Jordan. Known as "Refugee Cash Assistance," this ground-breaking project will support refugee families – especially large families or those who have lost their father, by using biometric data in order to securely withdraw financial support in cash at specially-equipped ATM machines. In addition to a significant increase in living conditions, this project helps refugees to become an active part of the social community of the host country, and allows them to contribute to the local economy.
In 2007, Her Holiness Shinso Ito visited the United Nations and spoke with Antonio Guterres, the former UNHCR and recently named Secretary-General of the United Nations. Her Holiness explained: "One of our intentions is to nurture people as an expression of Buddhist wisdom and compassion, to extend our heart and love to others. If we wish to do something as individuals it will be a small individual effort. In our spiritual community we nurture the spirit of joyful giving and then we consider how the contributions of our members, can together contribute in the most effective way to the welfare of others, as we pray for happiness and peace for all. "
Mr. Guterres replied: "What a beautiful community. We are very happy about your cooperation with us. This kind of connection is one of the best ways to work together in this world."
The donation was presented at the UNHCR Headquarters in Berlin to the representative of the UN High Commissioner in Germany, Mrs. Katharina Lumpp, in the presence of Mrs. Christine Andersen, a representative of the UN refugee agency.
Photo: Her Holiness Shinso Ito is seen visiting the children's choir in Berlin that was created in 2009 and has since been supported by Shinnyo-en.